How to prepare your children for returning to school

In just over a week, children will be heading back to school. Whether your little one is about to start school, or they’re in their final year, it’s a time that’s full of emotion – for them and us! 

We conduct regular check-ins with the foster carers we work with in Queensland. It allows us to see how everyone in the household is progressing and whether they, their foster children, or other people in their lives need extra assistance. While doing so, we recently asked a few of them for their best tips for preparing to return to school. Here’s what some of them had to say: 

The lunch rush, or lack thereof - Kelly and Zac

“Will* and our son Justin* will be heading back to school in a few weeks. This year, we’re making it a priority to prepare their lunches the night before each school day. We started this routine at the end of last year and it’s helped us with feeling more organised.” 

As well as being organised with when and how you prepare your children’s lunches, it’s important that the lunches are healthy, too. Here’s how to pack a highly nutritious, exciting, and energy-sustaining lunch: 

  1. Prepare meals and snacks that will not spoil. Living in Australia, we’re prone to experiencing high temperatures that cause food to rot quickly. 
  1. Include variety. Kids tend to get bored from eating the same foods day in, day out. 
  1. Ensure that your children’s lunch boxes contain the following food groups: 
  • Fresh or dried fruit; 
  • High fibre food such as wholegrain bread, wraps, pasta, rice, crackers or oats; 
  • Protein; 
  • Vegetables; and 
  • Dairy or calcium fortified dairy alternatives. 

Getting the right amount of Zzz’s - Christina

“One of my biggest tips for anyone who is sending their kids back to school is to establish healthy sleep patterns. It’s so good for their mental health and keeping them alert. I try to make sure the kids get nine hours of sleep each night. Usually, a week before school starts, I ease them back into going to bed at 8:30pm for a 6:00am wake-up.” 

Sleep is important for the health, growth and memory of children. They need to have a regular routine and quiet spaces, with minimal distraction, to achieve a good night’s rest. There are different guidelines for the number of hours of sleep that a child should get, depending on their age. Here are the recommended hours of sleep a child should get, based on their age: 

  • 5 years - 10-13 hours
  • 6-12 years - 9-11 hours
  • 13-19 years - 8-10 hours

Importance of safety – Alice and Brodie

“The kids will be returning to school soon. We place a big emphasis on safety. From road rules, not talking to strangers and internet safety through to bullying – we like to remind them of what’s good and safe practice.” 

There are so many benefits to teaching children about the importance of personal safety. For instance, 

  • It reduces their likelihood of entering an unsafe situation and teaches them how to respond, if a situation were to arise; 
  • It teaches them about their rights and gives them greater confidence to say ‘no’; and 
  • It teaches them that it’s okay to speak to someone that they trust to let them know of their concerns. 

To learn more about how you can teach safety to your children, we recommend visiting Brave Hearts. 

Other tips for preparing children to return to school

There are many other ways to prepare yourselves and your children for the return to school. For instance, you can: 

  • Communicate with their teachers, particularly if they are in primary school. This will allow you to understand how they are progressing and how you can support them with homework and learning development; 
  • Ensure that they have all their learning equipment and stationery prepared; 
  • Ease their anxieties about going back to school; and/or 
  • Make sure that their uniform fits and is clean. 

Is your child starting prep?

Do you have a child or foster child who is about to start prep? Make sure to check out these ‘Five things to think about before your child starts prep.’ In this article we discuss matters like social skills, concentration, motor skills, emotional regulation and independence.  

*Note: Names and photos have been de-identified to protect the identities of children and their families.    

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